Though capital projects have slowed down in Alaska because of the tight state budget, several state road and airport projects are under construction this summer or planned for the 2018 building season. Last week, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities held a workshop last Tuesday for two 2018 road projects and then another workshop last Friday for two current jobs. Homer area residents can expect to see work done on these improvements over the next two years:
• This summer: Mile 5.5-12.6 East End Road pavement preservation, including ditch work and culvert replacement, with a contract completion date of Oct. 31;
• This summer: Beluga Lake floatplane facilities near FAA Drive, aircraft access from the Homer Airport to the lake, with a contract completion date of Aug. 1, 2018, but an anticipated finish by mid-August this year;
• Summer 2018 or 2019: Pioneer Avenue pavement preservation, with upgrades of curb ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and
• Summer 2018: Homer Lake Street rehabilitation, with widening of the road, reconstruction of curb-gutters and sidewalks, Sterling Highway intersection improvements, and addition of bike lanes on both sides.
Drivers will see the biggest impact on the East End Road project. Construction starts from about a mile east of Kachemak Drive and ends just past McNeil Canyon Elementary School. Work runs 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, with paving to be done at night later in the season.
Project manager Pat Harvey said drivers can expect delays of about 10 minutes now and about 20 minutes as the project proceeds.
The work includes cleaning and lining with rock ditches, replacing about 40 culverts, regrading some curves, replacing or adding guardrails, striping and sign replacement. Pavement preservation includes putting in a foamed asphalt base, a construction method where air and chemicals are injected into asphalt so it expands slightly. Harvey said that also gives the asphalt some insulation value that reduces frost heaving. New pavement also will be spread on the road.
The Beluga Lake floatplane project constructs a paved road and ramp from the airport, across FAA Drive and down to the lake. It includes a turnaround area and a floating dock. Construction started last fall. Contractors piled a 4-foot high mound of gravel on the lake end to push water out of peat so the ramp would be more stable.
While the contract completion date is August of 2018, Harvey said construction should be done by mid-August this year.
“We’ll definitely finish it before fall. I think they’ll (aircraft owners) be able to take the planes out when it’s done,” he said.
Pavement preservation also is the plan for the 2018 Pioneer Avenue project, although in that project only the top layer of asphalt will be removed and replaced. Project manager Christina Huber said the project may include digging into the road at areas susceptible to potholes, such as in front of WKFL Park. Problem culverts also may be replaced. Construction is planned at night to reduce traffic congestion and delays during normal business hours. Short-term closures or detours may happen if dig outs are needed.
Huber said DOT&PF also will look at mitigating poor visibility at the corner of Svedlund Street and Pioneer Avenue, where utility poles and a retaining wall by the Pioneer Car Wash make looking around the corner difficult. However, she cautioned any mitigation has to be done within the limited scope of the project, mainly to preserve the pavement.
The Lake Street rehabilitation project will be a more comprehensive rebuild of Lake Street, and includes redoing 2,500 feet of pavement, widening the road to the west, adding bike lanes to both sides, reconstructing curbs and gutters and sidewalks, re-establishing ditches, fixing culverts and improving drainage, relocating utilities and improving the intersection with the Sterling Highway. That project includes right-of-way acquisition if needed. Property appraisals will be done this fall and design work will continue. The construction start date is depending on completion of right-of-way purchases and funding.